[Taxacom] Stewartia or Stuartia (Theaceae)?

Weitzman, Anna WEITZMAN at si.edu
Wed May 30 14:02:28 CDT 2007

Hi John,
You already know my opinion on this, but I'll say it again for the benefit of the list.
Since Linnaeus used the same spelling repeatedly from Species plantarum, ed. 1 until his death, I don't see that this can reasonably be interpreted as an error.  I think that it is more likely that Linnaeus chose that spelling for a reason (what reason appears to be lost in time).  With generic names in particular, I agree with Dan Nicolson that it is better to retain the original spelling unless there is a very good reason.  I simply don't a very good reason here (perhaps partly because I know that Stewart and Stuart were fairly interchangeable in Scotland for some centuries).
Most of the modern literature that consistently uses the spelling "Stuartia" is horticultural.  
The modern taxonomic literature including Airy-Shaw, Index Nominum Genericorum, and Mabberly all use "Stewartia".  The taxonomic literature from the US and from China (where the genus is native) both have used Stewartia consistently.  In the US, this includes monographs by Kobuski (1951) and Spongberg (1974) and family level analyses by Prince (in press) and Stevens et al (in Kubitzki) 2004.  
In China, this includes various works by Ye Chuang-xing (1982, 1984, 1990), Chang Hung-ta, and Ming Tien-lu have used the spelling "Stewartia".  Also, the Flora of China (both the Chinese and English versions--the latter in draft form) have used that spelling.
Anna L. Weitzman, PhD
Botany and Biodiversity Informatics Research
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
weitzman at si.edu


From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu on behalf of Boggan, John
Sent: Wed 30-May-07 2:12 PM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: [Taxacom] Stewartia or Stuartia (Theaceae)?

Perhaps this has come up previously, but I'm being vexed by the spelling
of a very well-known genus of Theaceae. Virtually all taxonomic
treatments of the family and genus spell the name as "Stewartia", which
is the original spelling (Linnaeus 1753); however it was apparently
named in honor of a person named Stuart, so there have been various
attempts over the years to declare it an orthographical error and
correct it to "Stuartia".  These attempts have been mostly rejected,
except in a very few references (primarily in the U.K.; Kew apparently
accepts "Stuartia" as the correct spelling). In fact the arguments in
favor of "Stuartia" seem fairly good, in which case I'm trying to figure
out why there seems to be a near-consensus among systematists (at least
outside the U.K.) to accept "Stewartia" as the correct spelling (the
main argument seems to be that Linnaeus originally spelled it that way,
and continued to use that spelling in all subsequent publications).  I
guess it all boils down to how broadly one interprets ICBN Art. 60.1,
whether one considers "Stewartia" to be a correctable orthographical
error, (and also whether one considers that such errors MUST be

For more information see the Wikipedia article (which is what set me off
on this) at:


and be sure to check the article's discussion page at:


John Boggan

Type Register Project

United States National Herbarium

Dept. of Botany, MRC 166

National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian Institution

P.O. Box 37012

Washington, DC 20013-7012

Email: Bogganj at si.edu

Phone: (202) 633-0895

FAX: (202) 786-2563

Department website: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/botany

Type Register website: http://ravenel.si.edu/botany/types

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